Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Heavy Load on Night Baby Died; Midwife Faces Hours of Questioning

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Heavy Load on Night Baby Died; Midwife Faces Hours of Questioning

Article excerpt

Byline: Liam Butterworth

OUT of sync clocks, a pager system not working and a student nurse taking on the workload of a full-time midwife were some of the issues facing Rockhampton Hospital staff the night a baby died, a court heard yesterday.

Midwife Sharon Rapkins gave evidence in the Rockhampton Coroners Court for four hours, responding to questions from four different lawyers.

Mrs Rapkins, a midwife with 13 years experience, was working the night shift between 10.45pm and 7.15am with student midwife Elizabeth Mann in the birthing ward of the Rockhampton Hospital on February 28 when newly born Bela Heidrich died.

The court heard that around 4.30am, two and a half hours after her birth, baby Bela was unsettled and Mrs Rapkins suggested to mother Zelia Blomfield that breastfeeding for a second time may get her child to sleep.

Mrs Rapkins estimates that around 10 or 15 minutes later she checked back on the mother and child, and spoke to Ms Blomfield, who responded to her questions.

By this time, Ms Blomfield had not slept for 26 hours.

The midwife intended to check back on Ms Blomfield at regular intervals and expected that the buzzer would be rung if she needed help.

During the time that Ms Blomfield was breastfeeding, Mrs Rapkins said she and the student nurse were trying to contact a doctor to see a new patient who had come in, but the paging system was down and they had to try to contact a doctor by telephone.

She said that about 5am, the other woman in the labour ward pressed the buzzer, and she started examining this woman when the student nurse Ms Mann called out to her and brought in baby Bela.

Mrs Rapkins said she looked at the clock and saw it was 5.10am, and she took Bela into another room and began trying to resuscitate.

Ms Mann asked her if she'd like the Medical Emergency Team (MET) to be called, and records showed they were called at 5.32am.

Under questioning from lawyers, Mrs Rapkins said it was not uncommon for clocks in the hospital to not be synchronised. …

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